St Clement Church Community Sunday Service 12.7.20
Good morning to you all as we celebrate our Sunday service, whether in your own home or our church building.
As things stand at the moment, our services in church will be the same as our Sunday community service as emailed round to everyone, so please bring your copy with you if attending, and perhaps a flask of coffee for afterwards?
The church building is now open during the day for visitors, and I’d like to offer many thanks to the folk who are looking after the locking and unlocking for us. And please rest assured that surfaces will be cleaned each Sunday morning before our worship.
Our Sunday worship last week was a joy. It was great to meet together albeit from a distance, and knowing that folk at home were taking part in the service too made it all the more special.
The county is getting busy with holidaymakers and this brings increased risks for us all, so please continue to be careful when you go out.
Much love and may Christ’s love sustain you always.
Rev Di and family xx
Let us pray;
God, our Father, we are here to worship you and to discover more of your love for us through Jesus Christ our Lord. May we serve others, as he has served us, for the sake of your eternal kingdom.
Our prayers of Penitence
The first commandment is this;
‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
Let us confess our failures truly to serve God and our neighbour:
Most merciful God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
We confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are, and direct what we shall be;
That we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.
May Almighty God have mercy upon us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray our Collect for the 5th Sunday after Trinity
Almighty God, send down upon your Church the riches of your Spirit, and kindle in all who minister the gospel your countless gifts of grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Reading is taken from the Gospel of Matthew (13. 1-9, 18-23)
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’
‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’
I wonder what those crowds gathered by the sea that day thought when they heard Jesus speak. Just try to imagine ourselves in their place.
We’ve heard some amazing stories about this man who was travelling around preaching and doing miracles.
People had taken to arguing about it. Some said there was no way the stories could be true. Some yokel from Galilee was not the longed-for promised Messiah who would restore Israel’s glory and bring about God’s kingdom on Earth. After all, they’d seen a hundred madmen claiming to be the Messiah and not one of them had been the real deal.
Others swore it was true. They’d seen and heard him teach and preach. This was the one that the Holy Scriptures had promised would come.
So just imagine the anticipation on the shore that day! The Scripture says the crowds were so large that Jesus had to get in a boat and push out into the water so they could all see him.
And then he said this: A farmer in his field sows his seed. He throws it everywhere. Some falls on the path and is eaten by birds. Some falls on the rocky ground and grows at first, but is eventually killed by the hot sun. Some falls in among the weeds and thorns and is choked to death. But some falls on good soil and yields a rich bounty.
And that’s it. That’s all he says.
When we read the Scripture, we get the explanation of the parable, but the crowd on the sea shore didn’t. They just got the story.
I think it was a probably a good thing the disciples hadn’t sold tickets to see Jesus that day, because they would’ve had a lot of demands for refunds.
But the parable was the perfect illustration of the point Jesus was trying to make. Not everyone who hears the gospel bears fruit.
Some people hear it, but it doesn’t get past their ears. It doesn’t touch their hearts or minds and it quickly fades away.
Some people hear and rejoice, but when trouble arises in their lives, the joy fades and the good news dies.
Some people hear it, but their hearts are set on wealth or the pleasures of the world, and these things strangle whatever change the good news might work in their lives.
And then some people hear it and it bursts forth in their life. They find new life and new meaning in the world. They live as new and different people and they bring God’s love to the world in what they do and how they live.
Jesus knew that many in that crowd weren’t ready to hear the gospel. So, he didn’t try to explain it to them. He didn’t go out of his way to make the good news understandable. He didn’t worry that lots of people left the shore that day scratching their heads or angry that they didn’t get from Jesus what they were expecting.
By the way he preached, Jesus was saying, “Look, not all of you are going to get something from this. I’m okay with that.”
Perhaps ministers need to take a lesson here from Jesus. Too often, when we preach we feel that we have to make the gospel easy to understand and easy to digest for everyone, every time. So we try to file off the rough edges and explain away the parts that are hard.
For instance, when Jesus says no one can follow him if they don’t hate their father and mother, we start looking for other texts to preach that Sunday.
When he says it’s harder for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to get through the eye of a needle, we feel a cold coming on and contact our Reader (don’t I Liz!) or see if any retired ministers can take the service that week.
The real truth of the matter is; that the good news of the kingdom of God is so hard for us to understand, we aren’t going to hear it all the time. It’s only by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit that we hear the good news as good news, sometimes like a bolt out of the blue, but sometimes all we hear is silence.
I find this extremely liberating, in a couple of ways.
First, as a church, it’s liberating because it frees us from having to worry all the time about how effective our witness as Christians is.
Now, don’t get me wrong! We all want to be good witnesses. We want to live out our faith in ways that glorify God and show the world what God’s love looks like in our lives. But the parable of the sower suggests to me that we can let go of our hang-ups about how people respond to our witness.
In the parable, the sower – that is Jesus – throws his seed everywhere. It’s flying all over the place. The birds are going to eat it. The sun is going to kill a lot of it. The weeds will choke it. But he keeps throwing it out there, and some of it will bear fruit.
In this we can read that a lot of what we do will not work. Many of our ministry ideas and efforts will fail. But if we keep throwing God’s good seed out there, some of it will find soil ready to receive it.
And I think that’s a liberating message for the church to hear. For the last 50 years or so, the Church has been living as if God is about to run out of seeds. We hear an awful lot about the death of the Church, but Jesus doesn’t appear to agree with us. It’s a liberating message for us here at St Clement. Jesus doesn’t fear death. Neither should we.
But I don’t think this parable is only a message for the church as a body. It’s also a message for us as individuals. What I hear in the parable is Jesus saying he understands our spiritual journey and our struggles.
He understands that some of us can find ourselves in a place where the world’s troubles blast away all our joy in God, that we can be too taken up with worldly concerns, the weeds of this world can choke the life out of our faith.
He understands that some of us can barely hear the words of hope or can’t believe them to be true. We’re like the hard, dry ground on the foot path that has been beaten down to a point that the Word can’t penetrate.
But the good news is that Jesus will keep throwing seed our way until we are ready and able to receive it.
He’ll keep speaking to us through the lives of his faithful people and in our prayers. He’ll show us the grace of God in the face of a homeless person given a warm meal or a child the blessing of education. He’ll churn up the tough, rocky soil of our lives with his gospel of the Father’s love and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We’re all invited to sow God’s seed into the lives of everyone we meet and everywhere we go. Much of it will never take root. Much of it will never bear fruit. But we shouldn’t worry. God has plenty more where that came from.
Let us be sowers of God’s extravagant love for all his creation. Amen.
Affirmation of our faith
Let us declare our faith in God:
We believe and trust in God the Father, source of all being and life, the one for whom we exist. We believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again.
We believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God and makes Christ known in the world.
This is the faith of the Church. This is our faith.
We believe and trust in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Our Intercessions this week are written by Daphne Hawkins
Most merciful and loving God as we gather this morning, some at our beloved church at St Clement and those of us still vulnerable at home, may your divine presence unite and enfold us together in our service today.
Dear Lord, we come to you amidst the continuation of this evil pandemic, the silent enemy which has devastated our world, your beautiful creation.
We once more ask that you will guide us through the fear, dread and heartbreak affecting so many of our brothers and sisters worldwide, and this morning we pray for all those in our church and community that have suffered the loss of loved ones.
We have not been there to offer the hand of friendship or support to our friends, but we pray they know that in our hearts we share their pain and they are always in our prayers.
We pray for our beloved Rev Diane and her loyal and loving family, guide and protect her as she bears the heavy load of her ministry.
Lord we thank you that in these dark days two little ones have brought such joy to us all. We pray that Willow and Arlo will have every blessing life can bring them.
Lord, we pray that our leaders will guide us on the right paths to overcome this pandemic. We pray for all people to observe advice given, to enable them to protect themselves and everyone here in our county at this time of relaxation of lock down. We pray for everyone who visits our church in the coming days.
Lord we pray for all who are sick and suffering in body mind or spirit.
In our little community we pray for Father Harold, Liz, Nick, Rob, Charlotte and Anne and any others whose troubles we do not know.
Loving Father we ask you to bring comfort, strength, peace and hope, to all in need or trouble at this time.
We pray for all who are caring for the sick in hospitals, care homes, and in the community, and for those providing us with our daily needs, food, water, and utilities and all the services that make our lives so much easier at this time.
Lord let us not in our time of despair forget to thank you for our beautiful world, our countryside, gardens, the abundance of wildlife and the peace and beauty of dawn and sunset.
These are the gifts that have been our lifeline in the past lonely and dark days, gifts only you can so abundantly provide, let us never take this for granted always be in awe.
Lord. Hear our prayers when trouble glooms, let sorrow find a way,
and when the day of trouble comes, turn not thy face away.
Dear Lord, We remember those who have gone before us, those who guided us on our own earthly journey, those in your heavenly kingdom at rest and at peace with you.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one, let us pray with confidence as Jesus taught us;
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
We are the body of Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised into one body. Let us then pursue all that makes for peace and build up our common life. May the peace of God be always with us.
May God the Holy Trinity make us strong in faith and love, defend us on every side and guide us in truth and peace. And may the presence of God watch over us, the power of God protect us, those whom we love, and may we never forget that wherever we are, God is with us always, to the end of the age.